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Background of the study 

Today's corporate environment is characterized by an unrelenting pace of change and intense industry competitiveness. For managers, Muogbo (2023) posits that the trick is knowing which levers to pull, and when to pull these levers to produce the desired and significant results in term of increased productivity which leads to high profitability of their organizations. Therefore, to survive in this fiercely competitive market, businesses need to constantly come up with plans and take steps to improve product quality, productivity, cost effectiveness, and innovation. They also need to make sure that products are delivered to customers quickly and build goodwill among them   Similarly, Dauda et al. (2020) opine that strategic planning is critical for navigating the high-stakes business environment because a poorly designed and implemented strategy can result in large financial losses, layoffs, or even company bankruptcy. As a result, no strategic plans can be done without strategic management which is essential for developing and implementing strategies that effectively move the organization towards its goals.

Undoubtedly, Mintzberg (2021) contends that strategic management makes an effort to blend long- and short-term planning. Adopting a formal process, which involves a team of planners articulating a mission statement, setting goals and objectives, auditing the organization for internal strengths and weaknesses, assessing opportunities and threats in the external environment, evaluating strategic options, and finally choosing and operationalizing an organizational strategy, is typical of organizations that adopt strategic management. Strategic management, according to Kotler (2012), is defined as the managerial process of developing and maintaining a viable fit between organization objective, skills resources and its changing market opportunities. In any organization, strategic management occurs in two phases which include the decision on the products to produce and or the services to render. Also, it includes deciding on the marketing and or the manufacturing strategy to follow in getting the intended product or service to the proper user.

According to Porter (2020), strategic management is the process of formulating an offensive and defensive action plan with the goal of sustaining and enhancing an edge over rivals via organizational and strategic innovation. The three questions that strategic management needs to answer are: how to outperform the competition; what to do; and how to find the consumers.Linking current organizational actions to an idealized future state of the organization—typically five years out—is the fundamental goal of strategic management. Therefore, rather than being a single magic bullet, strategic management is a flexible combination of ideas, guidelines, methods, and techniques meant to help organizations figure out where they are, what they are doing, how to do it, and why.  In same vein, Dess et al. (2020) describe strategic management as the process of senior management making decisions, planning, coordinating, and taking action to accomplish predetermined goals and objectives. But without accompanying activities, decisions are insufficient on their own. As a result, senior managers are responsible for allocating resources and organizing the company to convert strategic goals into observable results. Top management must actively participate in strategic management due to its long-term, forward-looking character and complexity. 

Although strategic management was formerly thought to be mainly advantageous for large companies that operated in several industries, it is now necessary for companies of all sizes and in all sectors. Considering the increasing likelihood of mistakes, expensive blunders, and possible economic downturns, professional managers in any organization must take strategic management very seriously. By doing this, they may successfully navigate their companies through the choppy seas of a business climate that is becoming more and more unstable (Wheelen and Hunger, 2018). 

 Statement of the Problem 

In recent times, Cameroon, located in Central Africa, has experienced significant economic growth and industrial development. However in the contemporary business landscape of Buea, Cameroon, private firms face multifaceted challenges in achieving and sustaining competitive advantage amidst rapid environmental changes. As the economic hub of the Southwest region, Buea serves as a focal point for businesses, including private firms, seeking to capitalize on the region's abundant natural resources and burgeoning market opportunities. This led  Porter (2020) to suggests  that since  business landscape in Cameroon is characterized by numerous challenges, including regulatory constraints, infrastructure deficits, and political instability, there is need for private firms to adopt effective strategic management practices to navigate successfully. To buttress further, Muogbo (2023) argued that strategic management  is paramount in navigating the high-stakes realm of business, as a poorly conceived and executed strategy can lead to significant financial losses, job cuts, or even business bankruptcy. 

While strategic management is widely recognized as a fundamental component for navigating these challenges and enhancing organizational performance, there remains a gap in understanding its practical application and impact on private firms operating within the region. Despite the theoretical importance attributed to strategic management, empirical evidence specific to private firms in Buea is scarce. Consequently, there is a pressing need to investigate the strategic management practices employed by these firms and their influence on organizational performance.

 Objective of the study 

The objectives of this study is focused on assessment of strategic management and organizational performance: a case study of  private firm in Buea, Cameroon.

To evaluate the strategic management practices of the selected private firm.

To assess the impact of strategic management on organizational performance.

To identify opportunities for improving strategic management and enhancing organizational performance.

 Research Questions 

What are the key strategic management practices adopted by the selected private firm in Buea, Cameroon?

How do the strategic management practices employed by the selected private firm influence its organizational performance?

What are the areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in the strategic management practices of the selected private firm, in Buea, Cameroon?

1.5Researcg  Hypotheses

Ho: There is no significant influence between the implementation of strategic management practices and organizational performance among private firms in Buea. 

Hi: There is a significant influence between the implementation of strategic management practices and organizational performance among private firms in Buea. 

1.6 Significance of the Study

The insights gained from this study can provide valuable guidance for private firms in Buea, helping them to enhance their strategic management processes and improve organizational performance. By understanding the factors that contribute to effective strategic management and performance outcomes, firms can develop strategies to remain competitive and achieve sustainable growth in the local business environment.

For policy and economic development , the findings of this study may also have broader implications for policy-makers and stakeholders involved in economic development initiatives in Cameroon. By identifying the drivers of organizational performance and competitiveness among private firms, policymakers can design targeted interventions to support business growth, job creation, and economic prosperity in the region.

By investigating the influence between strategic management practices and organizational performance within the specific context of private firms in Buea, Cameroon, this study contributes to academic knowledge in the fields of strategic management, organizational behavior, and business studies. The findings can enrich existing literature and serve as a basis for further research in similar contexts.

1.7  Scope of the Study 

The scope of the study is focused on assessment of strategic management and organizational performance: a case study of  private firm in Buea, Cameroon. Geographically, the study will primarily focus on private firms operating within the city of Buea, Cameroon. While acknowledging the broader economic and social context of Cameroon, the research will be delimited to the business environment and organizational dynamics within Buea. 

1.8 Limitation Of The Study

The study may be constrained by limitations in resources, including time, budget, and access to data. These constraints may impact the depth and scope of the research, as well as the ability to conduct extensive data collection and analysis. Additionally, the study's findings may be influenced by sampling limitations, particularly if certain private firms in Buea are unwilling or unable to participate in the research. This could potentially introduce bias into the study and limit the generalizability of the findings. More so, t`he findings of the study may have limited external validity beyond the specific context of private firms in Buea, Cameroon. While the insights gained may have broader implications, caution will be exercised in generalizing the findings to other contexts or settings.

1.9 Definition Of Terms

Strategic Management: Strategic management refers to the process of formulating and implementing strategies to achieve organizational goals and objectives. It involves analyzing the external environment, setting goals, formulating strategies, allocating resources, and monitoring performance to ensure the organization's long-term success and competitiveness.

Organizational Performance: Organizational performance refers to the extent to which an organization achieves its objectives and goals. It encompasses various dimensions, including financial performance (e.g., profitability, revenue growth), operational performance (e.g., efficiency, productivity), customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and innovation.

Private Firm: A private firm, also known as a privately held company or privately owned business, is an enterprise owned and operated by private individuals or groups of individuals. Unlike public companies, private firms do not sell shares to the public and are not listed on stock exchanges. They are typically smaller in scale and may have different ownership structures, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, or privately held corporations.

Buea, Cameroon: Buea is a city located in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, Central Africa. It serves as the regional capital and is known for its role as an educational, administrative, and commercial center. Buea has a diverse economic landscape, with businesses spanning various sectors, including agriculture, education, tourism, and services.

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